Pulse Checks compile key data and learnings for brands we work with, often contributed by agencies, within our network. This week, we’re sharing findings from Schwa’s empathy test.

This report allows brands to measure and benchmark their empathy based on how they communicate with their customers and wider audience.

To give their new tool a test run, they looked at one industry that isn’t always known for its empathy: banking.


How do you measure empathetic communications in banking?

They analysed online communications from eight banks in Which’s 2020 best banks for customer satisfaction list – from the top and bottom of the table. They covered:

  • Bereavement
  • Complaints policies
  • Replies to complaints on Facebook and Twitter
  • Covid-19 web pages
  • Formal apology statements on news websites.


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The Results:



What they found:

Their findings show the best banks in Which’s survey for customer service were the top scoring banks for empathy too.  And First Direct, the only bank in their selection to get a 5-star rating for communication in Which’s survey, was the number one bank overall.

Although, with ten points to play for, even the best brands could have done better. That was usually because, while they generally scored well, they weren’t completely consistent.

Monzo normally aces short, clear messages, but struggled to hit the right, well-structured, note with its Covid-19 comms. Make sure to think about what you’re saying, in what order and how you’re saying it.

And our chart-topper, First Direct, fell down with an overwhelming bereavement page, which also had lower readability than anything else we saw from them.

Empathy isn’t about being ‘fluffy’; it’s about understanding what customers need and when. To be truly empathetic, you need to talk about the customer and their situation, and learn it is not about you, your processes or brand values. The biggest takeaway Schwa found is to make sure you are measuring the readability of your writing, it is a good start in judging how empathetic your communications are.


What does your brand score?

Banks are far from the only ones with empathy or customer service problems. The measures Schwa have used are ones customers would want to see in empathetic communications from any brand or business. And they’re the things we suspect most customer service people would do if they were following their instincts.

For the detailed report and to find out your own business’ empathy score, download Schwa’s empathy test, here.


As GO! Network members, Schwa can help improve your customer experience, communications and culture – and measure the difference it makes. If you’d like to learn more about our agency network or get advice on specific challenges, get in touch here.